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Look close to see the actress to MTV reality to porn career arc

Look close to see the actress to MTV reality to porn career arc

When I moved to L.A., I wasn’t sure why the San Fernando Valley existed. I know it’s cheaper than living in L.A. and you can get a backyard and crappy neighbors, but can’t you do that anywhere without also having to deal with the traffic, heat, forest fires and having to tell people that you live in the Valley?

But then I was flipping around TV and I came across an MTV hidden camera prank show (the name doesn’t matter because they’re all the same) and I uncovered the reason that the San Fernando Valley exists. It’s a gold mine – no, a prime breeding pool – for wastes of life to star on reality shows.

If we didn’t have the Valley, we wouldn’t have MTV, VH1, Noggin, E!, Spike, Fuse, The Learning Channel and all the offshoots of those networks. If we didn’t have people from the Valley, there would be no one susceptible to hiding cameras in a fake art gallery and having someone walk around naked and see the Valley bro get weirded out on camera because he doesn’t know if it’s art or gay.

And all the dating show syndicates would be made null. Who could we put on a blind date, have them sign a waiver that they won’t read, then add air bubbles that make jokes about their thoughts just seconds before they actually say those thoughts? Who could we give $100 to try and date a total stranger by dating her mom first? Who will go on a date with three other guys as a competition? Who will get punched in the balls for $20 because he needs his skateboard repaired?

But the real value to the Valley isn’t just that they can live out all those career dreams by going to MTV.com’s casting page and finding twenty shows they can be humiliated on. It’s that after they have their dozen fifteen-minutes of fame and no one wants them for cable anymore, all these people live ten minutes away from the largest porn studios in America.

It’s not just that Valley gives us an entire population to laugh at and endless parking lots where we can film them. But it’s that they proceed to cover up their inadequacies by joining the porn industry. And porn is responsible for both the Internet’s success and stress relief that prevents serial killers.

So go ahead and laugh at the Valley and all its nothingness and the fact that there is nothing to do north of Ventura Blvd. and that its sole contribution to newsworthy events is by telling people where the shelters are after its forest fires and earthquakes.

But try and watch TV without watching their helpful contributions to society. Who will get pranked, who will get humiliated and who will make an ass of themselves because fame is just on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains? Laugh all you want at the Valley, but as a culture, we are nothing without it.

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This could be tampered down with...

This could be tampered down with...

this.

this.

By looking at the sky in Los Angeles the last couple days, either the world is about to end, or we are missing out on what could be the best integrated promotion in the history of cinema. Has anyone else noticed the exact parallels between the fiery red plumes of smoke caused by the San Gabriel fires, and the ominous red world that preludes a downpour of pancakes?

Columbia and Sony Animation are missing a brilliant chance to not only raise awareness, but also to feed stranded families and people who are guarding their homes against both the rage of an unstoppable forest fire and french toast falling from the sky.

What if instead of dropping the fire-retardant moisture from 747s, Columbia Pictures sponsors the airplanes to actually drop spaghetti and meatballs from the reddened sky? This solves numerous problems: Columbia pays for some of the costs to control the fire, they’ll make up the expenses with the opening week gross thanks to the clever marketing campaign, the fire itself will be stamped down and delicious, and stranded firefighters will have food readily available.

Maybe you could argue that it wouldn’t work because Italian food is fattening, but you can’t have it both ways people!

The studios are taking a beating with decreased DVD sales, pirating, higher costs and star-fees, so it’s going to take this kind of outside-the-box thinking to save the film industry. They have to look for every opportunity in Los Angeles’s natural ecology of trying to destroy everything living in the basin and see how it can integrate into half the movies in development.

Some would say that Los Angeles is cloudy from a smoke-plume from a forest fire burning hundreds of thousands of acres and damaging homes and taking lives, Sony would say that it’s cloudy, but with a chance of meatballs.

Stay hungry.

Can't One Alum Donate a New Copy Machine?

Can't One Alum Donate a New Copy Machine?

There’s like one day every few months where toiling away like a douchey L.A. stereotype by sitting in Insomnia Cafe writing on a pirated Final Draft 7, having no money, no social life, living in a worthless city and going back to undergrad when I’m uncomfortably old for it, can be slightly justified.

So, fuck it, for once I want to brag. A TV pilot I wrote is a finalist in a screenwriting competition: http://pageawards.net and it feels fucking fantastic whether it wins or not.

As in maybe, just maybe, ditching a kickass Astoria apartment (36th Street stop, $700/month, my own bathroom and my own balcony), regular temp work in Manhattan that paid over $20/hour and the thing that makes New York best of all – New York girls live there, for the cultural wasteland of L.A. might not have been the worst choice I could have made.

And another thing is that I’m going to argue that my jubilation today is a case for pessimism. Because I had discounted myself so much and forgotten about the script entirely and wrote it off as just another stack of papers to the “learning experience” pile, I was even more happy when I found out that it’s doing well. If I was optimistic about it and expected it to get there, I would either fail and be let down, or succeed and be happy but not thrilled.

But what if I keep writing and the scripts get a little bit better with each one and something gets sold some day and with enough work and focus and good ideas I can actually become a working writer.

Keep the expectations low.

But holy shit man.

ml

If you turn the sound off, they send a car to blast it next to yours

If you turn the sound off, they send a car to blast it next to yours

Most advocates against driving say that by taking the bus, riding a bike or walking to work in Los Angeles helps to reduce traffic and pollution, not to mention the stress of sitting bumper-to-bumper on the 10. But I think that the most underrated asset to not being in a car is that it makes it that much more difficult for one of Kings of Leon’s songs to find you.

I don’t know how they always manage to do it, but Kings of Leon manages to have their awful not-really-rock, not-really-country, Wilco-wannabe-but-closer-to-emo retarded lyrics make their way into my eardrums under every possible circumstance.

They managed to get onto every single radio station, even ones that don’t seem to specialize in music. The same crappy “Sex is On Fire” song that KROQ can’t get enough of, will then interrupt a news broadcast. Am I the only person who thinks that this band is one of the most overrated on the radio? Sometimes the radio won’t even be in, but the car will have it turn on automatically and say, “Hey, noticed your sex isn’t on fire, how ’bout a song about having your sex on fire!” and the worst-titled name in the history of music will start playing.

What the hell does that even mean to have your sex on fire? Either it’s the worst S&M menu option on the list or he’s just so emotional about a girl having a nice pussy that he came up with this super clever and deeply intuitive metaphor. And then he wrote a shitty tune around the whole thing.

So, yeah, save the planet, drive less, save gas money and the pains of sitting in traffic. But most importantly save yourself from this overrated of overrated bands that make L.A. radio stations look like the underplay Sublime.

Sold out not for NLCS but to do a "gnarly wave." Fucking LA people

Sold out not for NLCS but to do a "gnarly wave." Fucking LA people

Out of the 18-or-so stadiums I’ve had the chance to visit (that comes off more pathetic than accomplished), there isn’t one that comes close to Dodger Stadium’s disparity between how much I enjoy it and how much I hate it.

This is an awful analogy because not only do I have to reveal that I saw the Sex and the City movie, but I have to reference it in a logical argument about baseball stadiums. But every time I weigh the good and bad sides about going to a game, I have that same plus-minus list that Miranda makes about whether to forgive the cheating baby-daddy/husband-Jew-bar guy and meet him on the bridge.

On the plus side, when I’m at Dodger Stadium, I really enjoy myself. We’ve had good times together in a classic, laid-back, California sort of way. There’s a lot of happy memories that we have together. We’ll always have the beach ball and the wave. An awesome 2009 season loaded with walk-offs and the stadium itself is fantastic.

As in, once you’re in your seat and watching the game, Dodger Stadium is one of the best in baseball. It’s now the third-oldest stadium in the Majors, behind Wrigley and Fenway, and it’s rare that you find any of that mid-Century architecture in all sports, let alone baseball with all its cookie-cutter Camden Yards knockoffs. I love the pastel seats and the sightlines from anywhere are great. No matter where you sit, you can see the entire play.

Plus when you’re behind the plate, you’ve got Elysian Park and the San Gabriels in the distance. You get a perfect California sunset, warm weather year-round and this year’s great team. All-in-all, the experience itself is one of the best in baseball.

But then Dodger Stadium abuses that trust that we’ve built up and the negatives start piling up (let’s throw a basic chemistry reference into an awful joke: Dodger Stadium has more negatives than a carpet’s charged ions in the winter, am I right people?).

It’s as if because the stadium is so great, everything else has to be awful. We can start with the $15 parking fee, which is almost three times more than I paid for the individual ticket in my season ticket package. And if you don’t want to park in the stadium lot, try taking public trans– oh, that’s right, there is no public transportation to the stadium.

Because there is no bus or subway (there was a free bus last year from Union Station but it took ten times longer because you had to go to Union Station, wait for the bus, then sit in the same traffic as the cars), so you never have the fans gathering and the anticipation building as you pick up passengers en route to the game. Nothing beats the packed 4 train with energy building as you emerge out of the tunnel before 161st Street. For the Dodgers, you pay $15 for parking then walk a mile through multiple lots hoping that the entrance is on the same elevation as your parking spot. Or you can try biking up three massive hills.

Plus, Dodger Stadium is one of the only ones that doesn’t let you move around the stadium. Your ticket is only good for the section that you bought. Which – from a rich person’s perspective – makes perfect sense. From my $10/hour perspective not so much. Especially when the entire stadium is empty for innings one through three and seven through nine and all those juicy seats are begging for people to move down for the late innings.

How about, instead of pricing by section, you price by people who care about the game? Dodger fans are the worst. The loudest booing and cheering that you hear is for the success and failure of the wave. If the ump makes the wrong call at a play-at-the-plate and the Dodgers lose, the fans might grumble a little bit. But if someone accidentally hits the beach ball towards the usher who pops it, that’s the angriest booing you’ll hear on this side of the Los Angeles River.

So every time one my weekday games comes up, I have to do that constant fight in my head. I love baseball, the Dodgers are great this year, and the stadium is classic. But do I want to fight an hour across town from Santa Monica to Echo Park, pay an extra $15 to park or walk from Sunset, then endure some of the stupidest wave-crazed baseball fans in the Majors? Is this love? Is this what I married and had a love-child with the Dodgers for? I feel you Miranda. Do you meet the guy on the bridge? I feel you.

But that’s Dodger Stadium: one of the best stadiums in the majors with the worst accessibility and the least-passionate fans. So do you meet the Dodgers at the Brooklyn Bridge or not?

Been in L.A. a while: Is that a parking spot?

Been in L.A. a while: Is that a parking spot?

I wonder if it’s possible that the reason there’s such a dearth of original movies produced by Hollywood studios is because the idea of everyday reality for the people creating these films is the one offered by Los Angeles.

The entire essence of Los Angeles is that it’s a cultural wasteland nearly void of human interaction. People wake up, they get in their cars, they drive to work, pretend to get along with work friends – maybe you work on a studio lot and can meet new people there. Then you get in your car, go to the gym or have a drink meeting with someone who has been vetted, have a bite and go to bed.

I’m really curious if there’s ever been a study on it, but I would bet that the number of new people you meet, talk to, or simply walk past on any given day has to be monumentally less in Los Angeles than most cities in America. Even towns with strikingly smaller populations – like Seattle or a pure shithole like Hartford, Connecticut – probably have more interaction with other human beings than Los Angeles provides.

Yet this city – completely isolated from any other country (officially La Cienega Blvd. separates Los Angeles from Mexico) and with no forced interaction between social classes, ethnicities or forums for original debate – is the center of producing American culture.

How can a place with no culture be the breeding grounds for the culture of the entire country? Could the be entirely responsible for America being all around kind of flaccid the last decade or so?

Let’s just look at the top five movies from last weekend: G-Force, a 3D kids movie about hamsters with guns (I always forget if this is French New Wave or Italian Neorealism); Harry Potter, source material; Ugly Truth, formulaic romantic comedy; Orphan, the Good Son with a girl and a twist at the end; and Ice Age 3, a kids movie sequel.

I wonder if the reason that these movies are so bad is because the executives who push them spend the day stuck in traffic and their only human interaction is listening to pitches, berating their assistants and getting drinks with friends that they went to high school with in the Valley. Yes, they have the business and commercial side of things down, but in terms of making a movie that comes anywhere close to culturally interesting for people who are educated and cities that are worth anything (NY, Bos, Chi, SF, Den, Sea), it’s all worthless.

Maybe we can make crappy cities – I’m looking at you Kansas City and St. Louis – more interesting if the crappy movies we shoveled down their throats didn’t have female characters that set women back twenty years. I don’t know how this would work, but worth a try, yeah?

Granted, this all goes back to being the pretentious douche that I am, and I will willingly sell out at the sight of my first paycheck. And, yes, occasionally some good stuff gets through: The Hangover (despite the post below), Up and Star Trek were pretty solid. But what’s that, three studio films out of how many?

Indie side you have In the Loop, Hurt Locker, Humpday, and (500) Days of Summer. But see if those make any serious money.

Looks like this post ended nowhere near where it started, and now I’m wondering does America have bad taste in movies because that’s what they’re offered and advertising tells them that’s what’s good, or do they just not have a choice? Like, what if Fox Searchlight switched (500) Days’s marketing budget with that of Transformers? Would it make America smarter? Maybe, but the people who make that decision. Well they live in L.A.

Please write a comment if you know of another outdoor movie in Los Angeles that isn’t on the list. Be sure to include a link. I think I got most of them, but I assume there’s more.

Click the blue pushpin to see the schedule for each location, or click larger map below the map for a, uh, larger map.

The underrated art of eavesdropping on other people's dates

The underrated art of eavesdropping on other people's dates

Dating in Los Angeles is miserable, not so much because of the rarity of a really good date, but because there’s nothing good about the bad dates. In New York an extremely bad date can be arguably just as good as a pretty good date. In New York, a great date is the best, but after that I think I’d rather have a really bad date before a pretty good date.

This is all based on the formal scientific rankings of: very good, good, pretty good, kinda good, and so-so. But a very bad date in New York City is awesome.

I don’t know if it’s because there are more people around and there’s public transportation, so you always have an out, or because the crazy people are the craziest in the planet. But in New York, I’ve been on dates with girls who have done the following: told me a detailed account of her rape story; taken Xanax which was kept in her necklace locket; tried to have sex without a condom and she wasn’t on the pill; was asked to role play as a rapist.

Those are awesome bad first dates. And in New York, you’re always around people, so you can go up to someone else and say, “Hey, look at the psycho I’m on a date with.”

But in Los Angeles, bad first dates are just bland. There is nothing exciting about them, because most just consist of boring actresses who talk about their attempted careers all night. They hide the psychosis and make you stick around for a while to find them, which isn’t fun for anyone.

Plus if you’re on a bad date in L.A., you’re stuck in the car with the girl all night, so there’s no escape. In New York, you can be near any subway stop and say, “OK, see ya,” but in L.A., you can’t necessarily be out at dinner near La Cienega and Melrose, and walk away with a hearty, “Good luck.” You could, but you’ll lose the chance to ask her friends out.

Seems like there isn’t a definitive guide on where to watch European soccer in L.A. There are plenty of pubs that will have the game on, but won’t have many fans or the sound on (Busby’s for example). But here is a starter guide for pubs that get some smart soccer fans and put the sound on. I don’t know which have covers and where the best fans are, but this is better than most places on the left coast.

Ye Olde Kings Head
116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, at the end of the 3rd Street promenade
I really like this bar. Great feel, good beer, smart fans. Kind of strange that it’s located near one of the only tourist areas of L.A., and it gets big crowds. But if you go early and can get a good view of the TV, this is one of the best spots.

Cock ‘N Bull Pub
2947 Lincoln Blvd., border of Santa Monica and Venice
Went here for a U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier. Wasn’t a very big crowd, but they were good fans who wanted to get away from the more crowded spots. They had a projection screen and it was easy to watch the game. I heard they have a cover for some ESPN matches though, which is absurd if it’s true.

Fox and Hounds
11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
It’s up the Valley, but I’ve had a great time for the games I’ve seen up here. They give priority to football and baseball, but they have a big projection screen and good fans. Fun place to watch.

Cat and Fiddle Pub
6530 W Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Never been here for a game, so any thoughts are appreciated. The site looks like it’s a good soccer bar (mentions you might need to reserve for the big games), so I assume it’s a good spot.


The Swine Flu, Hepititis, Plague express

The Swine Flu, Hepititis, Plague express

Everyone in Los Angeles is terrified about Swine Flu, which they really shouldn’t be because no one in Los Angeles ever interacts with other people. Your average Los Angelino is face-to-face with an average of two real people per month (made-up stat), and it tends not to be the person who gets Swine Flu.

But their problem is that on the oft-chance that they are around someone with the disease, they’re screwed because they haven’t built up their immune system. I, on the other hand, will be perfectly fine because I ride the bus.

Do you have any idea how much the Los Angeles Metro strengthens the immune system? I’ve had diseases that don’t even have names because they can only exist in the stale environment of the Vermont Boulevard rapid line.

I think I’ve already had Swine Flu a half-dozen times in the last month. People bring their cattle and livestock on the bus with them, it’s really nothing new.

You car-drivers are the ones in trouble. Yeah your odds are low because you never have to talk to another human being, but on the chance that you encounter the disease, you’re screwed. You’re not ready. You’ve never been on the bus.

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